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So what happens when you make a sequel to a sequel? I mean, most sequels beyond the first one are technically following the first sequel, which makes them sort of sequels to sequels, but I'm talking specifically when a sequel only really serves as a sequel to one particular sequel? My neigbors had a dog named Sequel once, but as far as I know, he wasn't a sequel to a sequel. What the fuck am I babbling about?
The sequel I'm referring specifically to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure, which is certainly in the running for the longest title of any movie we've ever reviewed here. As you can imagine by the title, this is a sequel to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, the uproarious holiday classic from 1989. However, that film was unto itself the third installment in the Vacation series, following the Griswold clan in their exploits. So this film is, in effect, Part 2 of a Part 3.
My head hurts.
What makes it even more puzzling, though, is the fact that this film carries the National Lampoon name. Now, I once thought that perhaps the long-standing satirical magazine had discriminating tastes, as they refused to put their name on Vegas Vacation. It turns out that Vegas Vacation, though not the best film in the series, is still about 3000 times better than National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure.
But really, how bad could it be? After all, didn't we all love Cousin Eddie's cameos in three of the four previous Vacation films? Of course we did. But that was because they were cameos. I mean, as much as I like Randy Quaid, there's no way that even he could carry this character into a leading role.
The film, which was a made-for-basic-cable nightmare from the 2003 Christmas season, features Quaid in the title role, but also features Miriam Flynn reprising her role as his wife Catherine. As our opening dialogue explains, they are living in Chicago with Audrey, daughter of the not-here Clark and Ellen Griswold. For some reason, all of Eddie and Catherine's kids are missing in action, except for mentions of their slutty daughter (who is now a Vegas stripper) and the brand new superflous kid they call "Third". Why Third, you ask? Because his real name is Clark Griswold Johnson the Third, for some odd reason.
Eddie works as a lab rat in an atomic testing facility, but loses his job in favor of a chimpanzee with higher brain capacity. When he goes back for his severance package, he's bitten on the rump by the ape and in order to avoid a lawsuit, is offered an all-expenses paid Hawaiian vacation. Of course, it seems like it's initially just a trip designed for the immediate family, but suddenly other people start joining their party: Uncle Nick, played by Ed Asner, and Audrey herself, who sets a huge precedent here. Yes, this Audrey may look familiar to you because she's portrayed by Dana Barron, the same actress who breathed life into the role twenty years earlier in the original Vacation. This is the first time in history that a Griswold kid has ever been played by the same actor twice.
Oh, and while we're bringing back actors from previous installments, it's as good a time as any to mention that Eric Idle joins the cast as the same nameless unlucky British dude that appeared in European Vacation.
Eventually, the story leads the Johnson/Griswold clan and their trusty smelly Rottweiler snots to the tropical island paradise, and the adventure really begins. They meet up with a tour guide named Muka Laka Miki, who only seems to exist so that the randy Uncle Nick can have someone to ogle and so Uncle Eddie can butcher her name whenever possible. Things go awry, and the whole gang winds up on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere. None of them seems overly concerned with this situation, other than the fact that they might eventually get sick of eating bananas. Concerns about health, survival, or any other important aspect of life seems to be absent. At least there's a tiny bit of continuity from the previous installment: Uncle Eddie still can't swim.
Of course, since it's almost Christmas, they decide that they're all going to have a happy holiday. They attempt to build a house, gather up a Christmas feast, and generally do the all-around peace on Earth goodwill to men thing. Unfortunately, not one ounce of it is even mildly entertaining.
Eventually they escape the island, but there's this really retarded sequence involving Quaid reviving his Russell "I can fly! I'm a pilot" Casse character from Independence Day and trying to land a seaplane with the help of an inept air traffic controller. Other reviewers mention this scene, as well as one at the beginning where the pipes burst in Audrey's house, as being the film's saving graces, but don't let them fool you. Neither scene is even remotely funny. Hell, if anything in the film was amusing, it was seeing little Clark the Third trying to sneak a glimpse of his stripping sister on TV before his parents walk in the door.
Yes, as you've probably figured out by now, this monstrosity with a ridiculously long name is a huge black mark on the whole Vacation franchise. Not for a moment is there anything that could possibly elicit a chuckle out of a viewer unless who's not suffering from some form of dementia. The movie is apparently intended to be a comedy, but the dialogue isn't funny. In fact, it seems like it's not even written to be funny. Apparently, all the writers thought they needed to make this a comedy was Randy Quaid walking around acting like a goofball, which worked in previous Vacation installments for a few minutes at a time, but is not intended to carry an entire movie.
The bottom line here is to avoid this movie like the plague. There's nothing here even worth bothering with. There's nothing here that is even worth the train wreck aspect of it. It's just completely abhorrent. Just to show you how exactly wrong this thing is on all levels, how could they make a Christmas movie, which happens to be a sequel of Christmas Vacation, that takes place in Hawaii, and not use Bing Crosby's "Mele Kalikimaka"? Jesus, people. It's common fucking sense.
Perhaps, instead of the Galactic Holiday theme I decided to go for this year, I should have chosen a Tropical Holiday theme. After all, that seems to be the common bond with Jack Frost 2 and the film we have just reviewed. Of course, one of those two films was entertaining. I'll let you guess which one.
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